The House of Representatives has criticized the way Caroline van der Plas (BBB) is questioning the integrity of scientists. This mainly concerns Professor Emeritus Leen Hordijk, who studied nitrogen measurements in 2019.
Van der Plas found it remarkable that Hordijk said something different about his research in an agricultural magazine than in an interview with news time a few days later. “What’s behind that?” she wondered Thursday during the debate on the cabinet’s nitrogen plans.
Van der Plas himself gave the answer. “I think the livestock has been cut in half. That’s the point on the horizon.”
CDA MP Derk Boswijk, among others, reacted with outrage. “I pass a lot of farmers and it bothers me a lot,” he said.
“People look at me and ask me: are you also part of the conspiracy? Isn’t it your objective to halve the livestock and kill the agricultural sector?
Boswijk believes a line is crossed if MPs begin to doubt scientists in general.
Van der Plas persisted: She thinks the cabinet can’t make major decisions, like buying out farmers, until it’s exactly clear ‘that the nitrogen is coming up from this cow and rushing onto this plant’ and what are the consequences.
She advises farmers to ask this question in court if they are being expropriated on the basis of nature restoration. “I predict: it will be a long legal agony for the government.”
Boswijk called it “cheating” to act, saying you first have to be “1,000% sure” before you start anything. “Yes, mistakes are made. It’s inherent in science. But I’m glad we didn’t wait for medical science to know everything, because then we wouldn’t be over 25.”
“You have populism and flat populism”
GroenLinks leader Jesse Klaver also got involved in the discussion. “You have populism and flat populism. I’ve been listening to the latter for 45 minutes.”
He mentioned questioning the science with “signal words” like “what’s behind this?” dangerous. “It’s poison,” he told Van der Plas.
“Soon there will be police houses in front of the scientists or they can’t go to a festival. Then the House of Representatives will be too small again and we’ll all be very sorry about that.”
Van der Plas was again not happy about her being held “indirectly responsible” for possible future threats to scientists. “I think that’s a serious charge.”
Since the nitrogen policy was ruled out by the judge in 2019, there has been much criticism of how nitrogen emissions and precipitation are measured. The previous cabinet had a committee headed by Hordijk investigate the matter. The conclusion: the measuring instruments are “good enough”, but there are areas for improvement.
According to Hordijk, these points for improvement were later taken out of context by MPs. “We know a lot about nitrogen,” he recently told NU.nl. “Of course, it can always be more accurate, but it won’t fundamentally change the pattern we see now.” Other experts also say the measurements are correct.
Hundreds of scientists recently expressed their concerns about the mistrust of scientists in parliamentary debates in a letter sent to them. They called for “an even tougher stance” against politicians who abuse their parliamentary immunity to “bring groundless accusations and insinuations against scientists”.
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